Tim Marks, an airline security worker, took an $8 TIME magazine which had been discarded by a customer and placed inside a rubbish bag on the stairwell of a United Airlines plane by cleaners.
The company fired him for gross misconduct.
Marks, who had been working for the firm ICTS Ireland for nine years, said the reason he didn't ask for permission to take the magazine was because he felt it was being treated as rubbish and that the magazine had no intrinsic value to the company, the Irish Independent reported.
He sued for unfair dismissal.
Two years on, the Irish Employment Appeal Tribunal has found his firing "was disproportionate in the circumstances".
The tribunal found "that the magazine, alleged to have been stolen, had already been removed from the aircraft by cleaners and placed in a refuse sack outside the aircraft for disposal."
It also found that the procedures put in place by ICTS to discipline Marks were "fundamentally flawed", claiming that the company failed to convince the tribunal that dismissal was the only option.
Taking into account the value and significance of the item taken, and the length of service and good employment record of Marks, the tribunal ordered ICTS Ireland to pay Marks $A46,000.
Marks said that he was "very pleased with the outcome - even if it did take two years. I feel fully vindicated".
"This was never about the money. I was accused of stealing and my main aim was to clear my name and get my character back intact and this decision has done that."
Station Manager at Shannon for ICTS, Audrey Wilhite told the hearing that the value of the item was irrelevant as the company’s zero tolerance towards theft was well known.
"We are a security company and the whole basis of what we do is protecting all of the items on the aircraft.
"That is our purpose for being there - if we have someone who breaches that, it is serious, it is extremely serious and we can’t actually proceed with that person."
At least he didn’t do this...
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